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Novelty Playing Cards

Published July 31, 2023 Updated July 31, 2023

Standard designs by M.F. Milward of Chicago, resembling those of Andrew Dougherty.

1890 USA M.F. Milward Novelty Add to Collection

According to The Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards, M.F. Milward was making playing cards in Chicago in the 1890s. This is believed to be the only design they ever produced, although it is known with two different Jokers (sadly lacking from this pack). The court cards bear a strong resemblance to those found in Dougherty’s Triplicate pack of 1878. Note especially the Queen of Hearts, who normally faces in the opposite direction, and the Jack of Spades, who looks particularly grumpy thanks to a strong mouth line. The simple back design in pale green is made up of dots and six-pointed asterisks.

Novelty Playing Cards by M.F. Milward of Chicago, c.1890 Novelty Playing Cards by M.F. Milward of Chicago, c.1890

Above: Novelty Playing Cards made by M.F. Milward, Chicago, USA, c1890. 52 cards. Size: 64 x 88 mm.

References

Dawson, Tom and Judy. The Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards. Stamford, CT, USA: U.S. Games Systems, Inc.; 2000. p.31, L28b.

Lodge, Ken. The Standard English Pattern. Second edition; 2010. p.191.

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By Roddy Somerville

Member since May 31, 2022

Roddy started collecting stamps on his 8th birthday. In 1977 he joined the newly formed playing-card department at Stanley Gibbons in London before setting up his own business in Edinburgh four years later. His collecting interests include playing cards, postcards, stamps (especially playing cards on stamps) and sugar wrappers. He is a Past President of the Scottish Philatelic Society, a former Chairman of the IPCS, a Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards and Curator of the WCMPC’s collection of playing cards. He lives near Toulouse in France.


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